PLATTSBURGH — Jerika and Kacie LaValley have spent a lot of their time volunteering for services and programs during their young lives.
This summer, the sisters have combined that love for helping others with their career goals by again signing up with the Junior Volunteer Program at CVPH Medical Center.
“It’s a positive experience when you see the smile on a patient’s face,” said Jerika, a junior at Beekmantown Central School who is taking part for the third straight summer.
“I think it’s a very good experience,” she added. “It’s given me a lot of confidence, and I’ve met a lot of people I wouldn’t have seen if I wasn’t volunteering.”
One day, Jerika wants to be a physical therapist.
“It’s good (experience) if you’re going into the medical field,” she said of her volunteer work. “It gives me a sense of what it is like working in a hospital.”
Jerika has had two knee surgeries and is currently rehabbing for next fall’s soccer season. That personal experience with sports injuries and physical therapy has cemented her interest in pursuing a career in that direction.
At the hospital, she spends a lot of her time delivering flowers to patients’ rooms and always enjoys the gratitude they show for her efforts.
LIKES HELPING PEOPLE
Kacie, who will be a Beekmantown Central sophomore this fall, is in her second summer of volunteering at CVPH.
“I think it’s a great way to get experience in the hospital,” she said as she worked in the Medical Center’s Radiology Unit. “I want to get into the medical field when I get older.
“I like working with people, helping people.”
Like her sister, Kacie has volunteered in other programs, such as Make-A-Wish, Relay for Life and the Redneck Games in Malone.
On this particular day at CVPH, she was recording names of patients in the Radiology Unit’s waiting room, making sure they did not have a long wait before their appointments.
She would like to work in radiology as a career, she said.
Kacie also helps out with her family’s therapeutic horseback riding business and shows her own horse, Blake.
CVPH Medical Center has 217 adult volunteers who provide a plethora of services there.
The Junior Volunteer Program, which runs June 26 through Aug. 9, has 60 participants this summer, giving the hospital extra hands and feet to meet the facility’s daily requirements.
“We like to match them with their interests,” said Molly Ryan, manager of the hospital’s Community Outreach Program and coordinator of volunteer services.
“Some are more patient-focused, on the floors with nurses or aides, filling water pitchers, arranging patient materials. Others are in Radiology, the Ambulatory Center, Renal Center or working in clerical or human resources.”
Bringing aboard the younger volunteers for the six-week program gives some of the regulars an opportunity to take a little time off, Ryan noted.
The hospital sends out notices to area schools in the spring asking high-school students if they would like to volunteer for the program.
When chosen to participate, junior volunteers go through a three-hour orientation at the hospital and then complete training for whatever tasks they are asked to do. Each volunteer works a three-hour shift one day per week.
“Our junior volunteers have a wide range of (levels of) experience,” Ryan said. “Some of them have been volunteering in many different capacities, while this is the first experience for others.
“A lot of times, we are getting younger kids who are interested in the medical community,” she added.
“They’re thinking they’d like to be nurses, doctors, and this experience gives them that hospital experience that will perhaps strengthen their interest in health care.”
Other areas the volunteers serve are Skilled Nursing, case management, the lending library, the Health Center and the Emergency Department.
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